Meet the Leading Change Steering Committee
Our vision for a more sustainable future within a generation is led and informed by young people with a passion for sustainability. Our Steering Committee is a group of driven young leaders who define and enable our events, projects, and impact.
Participants & Delegates
Shelby Empey is Métis from the Orillia area. She is a first-year law student at the University of Ottawa where she plans on pursuing a career as an environmental lawyer. She holds a Bachelor of Science Honours from Queen’s University with a major in environmental science. Her undergraduate research focused on the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations and water quality.
She has worked for Ontario Parks for the past seven summers in various roles. When she is not doing school, Shelby enjoys playing hockey, baseball and blogging. Shelby is the founder of @lawstudentcanada, a blog dedicated to increasing the transparency of the law school admission process and to create equity amongst under-represented groups in the legal profession. She is an advocate for sustainability, Indigenous rights, and inclusivity. She is a Leading Change Alumni and is excited to transition to her new role as a Director of Participants for Leading Change.
Sarah Hanson is Anishinaabe from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, currently living, working and studying in Ottawa. Having finished a Biology degree from Queen’s University, where she gained valuable skills in science, advocacy and leadership, Sarah is continuing her education at Carleton University in Indigenous Studies.
Prior to finishing her degree at Queen’s University, Sarah participated in an international internship for Indigenous youth where she lived and worked in Guyana, setting up robotics programs in 5 underperforming schools for youth in the capital. After returning to Canada, Sarah finished her Biology degree and began working at Crown Indigenous-Relations and Northern Affairs Canada as a Junior Environmental Policy Analyst. Through her work with the Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring Program, Sarah has been able to combine her Indigenous ancestry to western science.
In the future, Sarah would like to continue sharing her inherent connection to the land with more youth worldwide while also helping to bridge the gap between traditional knowledge and western science.
Rebecca Klaassen is passionate about mobilizing young people to drive impact, transform systems and build more inclusive and sustainable communities. As the Program Manager of CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network, she works to connect, develop and activate a network of 3000+ rising and underrepresented civic leaders from across the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area.
Prior to joining CivicAction, Rebecca coordinated the Toronto RISE project for Apathy is Boring, where she supported youth in becoming more civically and democratically engaged, and was a facilitator for Amplify, a transatlantic youth dialogue. She has worked internationally facilitating programming in Uganda, Fiji, and South Africa, and is an avid traveler. Since completing her Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa, Rebecca has been interested in exploring how young people can engage with global issues in ethical and meaningful ways and has given a TEDx talk on the subject.
Alicia M. Richins
Alicia M. Richins is a sustainability and social impact consultant and a fierce advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She defines her personal mission as the advancement of sustainable development in order to secure resilient futures for all.
With extensive experience in international development, nonprofits and community organizations, she works with forward-thinking organizations to assess, amplify and embed their desired social and environmental impact, using the UN SDGs as a guiding framework. As Partnerships and Standards Manager at the Common Approach to Impact Measurement, Alicia leads the development and adoption of the Common Approach by social purpose organizations across the country.
A proud dual citizen of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, Alicia holds a Master in Environmental Studies (Planning Concentration) and a BA in Economics and Social Science (Honours), both from York University. Alicia is excited to join the Leading Change Steering Committee as Director of Programs and put her skills in event management and facilitation to use in the convening and activation of youth climate leaders.
Austin is a Métis man who grew up and is currently living in Edmonton, Alberta. He has completed a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta as well as an M.Eng in Sustainable Energy Engineering at Carleton University. Austin is also a registered E.I.T with APEGA and has recently joined the Delphi Group as a research analyst. In this role, Austin completes research on various sustainability topics, engages with subject matter experts, and works on the quantification of greenhouse gases. Austin specializes at effectively communicating complex topics in plain language to diverse groups of people.
Sustainability has been a passion of his since high school. Austin has helped design and build a zero-emission (hydrogen fuel cell electric) vehicle; participated in research at the University of Sydney on climate patterns; and worked with an NGO in Accra, Ghana which aimed at addressing systemic social issues across the country. In his free time, Austin enjoys spending time outdoors rock climbing, back-country hiking, canoeing, and snowboarding.
Laj is driven by her passion for sustainability with a deep commitment to creating a positive change. With a B.A in Political Science and currently completing a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development, she is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices and environment stewardship.
Laj’s professional experience includes working with a variety of organizations including NGOs and private companies to design and implement sustainable business practices. Her background in marketing and event management has been instrumental in creating engaging and effective campaigns that promote sustainable development. She is an active member of Community Climate Council where she facilitates climate conversations and is excited to continue her work on the path of intersecting business functions with sustainable development.
Participants & Delegates
Taylor is, at heart, a passionate problem-solver and environmentalist working to lead systems change toward a more climate-positive, equitable, and socially-just future. Her expertise in research, engineering design, and emergent thinking provide a basis for curated solutions to climate, waste, and sustainability challenges. She brings over 6 years of expertise in interfacial engineering with a focus on bio-based sustainable materials, from both an academic and private start-up lens. Taylor has extended this expertise in her current role as Program Manager at the Academy for Sustainable Innovation, to look at cultural, societal, and organizational interfaces, noting that change happens where there is intersection & collaboration. As a McMaster alumna, holding a B.Eng & Society and MASc in Chemical Engineering, and now as a sessional instructor for McMaster’s undergraduate Engineering & Society Capstone course, Taylor offers perspectives with a systems-lens that help us to imagine and create regenerative futures that work with the planet, not against it, supporting all human and other-than-human inhabitants. Taylor is actively involved with sustainability-focused community groups including the EcoHamilton Collective, owns and operates her small textile upcycling business, Waste Knot Co, and loves to spend her time reconnecting with nature and creativity. Taylor believes that our approaches to solving our greatest global challenges will require a healthy dose of active hope, supported by an essence of adaptability, and a passion for community.